How To Write a Problem Statement for Your Business Idea

Problem Statement Canvas

BONUS Material: Problem Statement Canvas

A problem statement is a short and succinct definition of the problem you plan to solve and why it’s important. The problem statement is crucially important for your internal startup.

You need to be able to articulate the problem you’re solving in very simply terms.

Why?

Because it’s the first thing you’ll need to explain in a pitch. It’s what any new team member will immediately need to understand. And without it, everyone will end up solving different problems – which will ultimately lead to failure.

Before you write your problem statement you should have a clear vision of what you want to achieve with your intrapreneurial venture, and a clear picture of who you are solving the problem for (in other words – your ideal customer).

Then, when you have your customer persona and vision statement clear, move on to define your problem statement. The rest of this article will explain exactly how to do that.

Part 1 Draft Your Problem Statement

(RELATED: [DOWNLOAD] The Problem Statement Canvas)

Step 1

First, write down your vision as a reminder of the context you’re working in and your overall goal for your internal startup.

Step 2

Next, look to the first party research you’ve done with your target market and using all the data you’ve collected, choose the problem you want to solve first. Base your decision on your talents and abilities, the potential for profit and/or success and how well the problem space aligns with your passions and values.

Write down the problem in a single short sentence.

Step 3

The next step is to write down the current situation – what people do today. The purpose of writing this is to expand on the problem so that readers begin to understand the effort that people have to go to in order to overcome the problem (without your solution!)

Write down any workarounds or alternative (sub-optimal) solutions that people use right now. This works well as a simple bullet list.

Step 4

In step 4, you should write down the impact that the status quo has on the customer, on their business and/or on your business. How does the customer feel today? Can you quantify the wasted time, effort or money? And crucially, what will happen if you don’t solve the problem? Will you lose customers, market share, or something else?

Step 5

Finally, in step 5, you should define the opportunity available to you and your company. In other words, explain the upside and therefore why your company should invest time and resources in solving the problem.  What do you or your company stand to gain?

Part 2 Validate Your Problem Statement

Once you’ve crafted your problem statement you should test it out on people. Talk to your peers, your ideal customer and your bosses.  Can they understand it? Does it reflect how they feel? Does it persuade them it’s a problem worth solving.

Take any feedback you get and use it to refine your problem statement to make it as clear, powerful and impactful as it can be.